The facts in Mike Woitalla’s article expose what is going on in Chicago. Those facts tell of an anti-Hispanic bias of extreme ugliness, something that everyone who is in any way associated with the Federation must be deeply ashamed of.
Briefly: last October U.S. Soccer, under its new President Carlos Cordeiro, announced the formation of a Task Force to look into youth soccer. Nine original members were announced; during the months that followed more members were appointed. Today the total number of members is 59. Not one of them, not a single one of them, is a Latino male.
We could say that this phantom president Cordeiro qualifies in that category. Not for me he doesn’t. Cordeiro might as well be from Borneo for all his attention to the Hispanic issue.
So how is it possible for this nationwide organization to go searching for experts involved in youth soccer ... and to fail to recruit even one Latino?
The mere fact that such an outrageous thing can happen simply beggars belief. There is massive involvement of young Hispanics in youth soccer. How could the Federation experts miss that point?
Miss it they did. Or did they? I do not believe that they “missed” it. I believe that they know about it. Which means that they either are not interested in it, or that they do not believe it to be of any importance, or that they actively oppose it.
Those are increasingly ugly explanations. After at least a couple of decades of trying to promote the vital importance of the -- growing -- Hispanic contribution to the growth of American soccer, I can only say that what was left of the various illusions I may have entertained along the way have now been brutally stripped away.
The stats revealed by Woitalla are not only unacceptable, they are utterly disgraceful, a dark stain on the Federation, which is exposed as totally incapable of doing its job. There are no excuses that can be offered that will dilute this blemish, this revelation that we have a Federation that is actively discriminating against American Hispanics, that is deliberately keeping them out of influential appointments.
These Federation experts must already know what Woitalla mentions: that nearly 40 percent of the boys involved in the various Federation national teams from U-14 to U-20 are Latinos. And how many Hispanic coaches does U.S. Soccer employ? One. The estimable Tab Ramos. When the U-17 job became available recently, it went to an obscure Swiss, with no particularly obvious suitability for the job.
The Federation could, of course, regret that no American-Hispanic coaches were to be found. That may even be true -- but the reason is clear: because the Federation does nothing to promote them.
In the face of this damning evidence, not only of incompetence, but of active discrimination, the leaders of this crippled Federation could do all of us, and the sport in the USA, a huge favor by resigning to make way for people who know the ground-level facts of the Hispanic contribution to youth soccer.
The Federation needn’t bother trying to explain how its experts managed assemble that 60-member Task Force on youth soccer without considering any Hispanics. Something that is just not possible without a hefty dose of bias in the selection process. The absence of Latino coaches in the Federation is further confirmation that an evil spirit of anti-Hispanic discrimination pervades the corridors in Chicago.
Of course, there has been plenty of guff from the Federation over the years about diversity. The Task Force even includes a “Diversity” sub-group. We know, now, with absolute certainty, that nothing worthwhile can be expected from them.
During the years that I have been complaining about the sort of bias that Woitalla has now so tellingly exposed, there have been a
number of aspects that I have considered but never written about. For instance: should the Hispanic soccer community, so obviously being slighted, break away to form its own
Now, I’m not so sure. The depth of the discrimination that Latinos face is now revealed by this worthless -- worse, biased and therefore damaging -- youth Task Force. Something else I have touched on only briefly before, is the lack of initiative shown by the Hispanic soccer community itself.
This is a squalid story. Inevitably, plenty of honorable and good people are embroiled in it. But every one of these Task Force members ought to know the truth about the burgeoning importance of young Hispanic players. They are, after all, presumably experts? Every one of them ought to be surveying their colleagues ... and asking themselves “Why are there no Hispanics?” But that is evidently a questioning attitude that doesn’t exist at the Federation.
Make no mistake. This is a sick Federation. There is no way that it can explain away the discrimination that the composition of the Task Force reveals. This is not a small committee -- this is a nationwide assembly of some 60 youth soccer experts. And it is an absolute disgrace. A slap in the face, a slamming of the door, a blatant exhibition of disrespect toward Hispanic soccer players -- indeed, toward the whole Hispanic community.
I have been covering soccer throughout the world for over 50 years, paying particular attention to youth soccer. To say I am disappointed with U.S. Soccer’s attitude does not begin to describe my feelings. I am totally disgusted. This imbroglio of the Youth Task Force is so much more than an embarrassment. It is by far the nastiest example of calculated ignorance and arrogance that I have encountered in the sport.
To the U.S. Soccer Federation ... shame on you!